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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Last month, Forrest Griffin came under fire for a highly insensitive joke about rape over Twitter, which led to him making a public apology and donating money to a foundation after it blew up in his face. On Wednesday, bantamweight Miguel Torres tweeted a rape joke of his own, and then Rashad Evans made a very ill-advised statement to Phil Davis regarding the current scandal at Davis' alma mater Penn State.
White had a conversation with Evans about his statement, was satisfied with Evans' explanation, apology, and vow not to let it happen again, but the hammer has come down on Torres. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, White revealed that the UFC has cut the former WEC Champion following the comment on Twitter.
For the record, Torres Tweet read as follows:
"If a rape van was called a surprise van more women wouldn't mind going for rides in them. Everyone likes surprises."
White said he didn't find out about it until he was on Michael Landsburg's talk show in Canada, and he took swift action afterward.
"This morning I'm on [Michael] Landsburg's show, up here in Canada, and he hits me with the quote of what he tweeted," White explained. "Now there's no explanation for that. There's absolutely nothing I could say to make any sense of that. And the fact that he even thinks that's funny or that's a joke, it disturbs me. It bothers me. Again, you're dealing with a guy that's a smart guy, that owns his own business, that's been one of the top fighters in the world forever. And I cut him today. He's no longer with the UFC."
"Miguel Torres has been cut from the UFC and his career with us now is over."
With the heat that Griffin came under, White couldn't believe another fighter would go down the same road with a comment like that, and he said it was simply wrong.
"He said he hadn't heard what happened to Forrest [Griffin, who drew fire for tweeting "Rape is the new missionary" last month]," White said incredulously. "Really? Where do you live? What business are you in? How do you not hear about these things? You should have paid more attention. It's to the point now where, there's going be times when things happen and mistakes are made. I cannot defend Miguel Torres. I cannot defend what he said. What he said makes no sense other than when he says, “It was a joke.” Well, I don't think that's a funny joke. I think it's disturbing."
"Everybody's going to have an opinion on something, and not everybody's going to get along. I've had my words with fans on Twitter too. When people come on Twitter and say dumb s*** to you, expect to get some dumb s*** back. But for a guy to go out and talk about a 'rape van' being a 'surprise van,' there's no defense for that."
It may seem unfair to some that Torres would get his release when Griffin and Evans are still on the roster, and there are others who have made public mistakes still fighting in the UFC. However, this is a situation where White feels Torres was wrong, and the way he reacted afterward wasn't to the UFC's liking.
"I'm a realist. I treat people and I deal with my fighters and I deal with the fans like a real person. I don't come out and read canned statements written by our lawyers," White said. "I deal with the guys on a case-by-case basis and how they handle themselves. We're all entitled to make mistakes. I'm not one of these guys where if you make a mistake, I'm gonna try to tear your life down and burn it to the ground.
"We just had one of our fighters, Chris Leben, test positive for [Oxycodone and Oxymorphone], and he's been suspended for a year by the UFC. Now with the suspension it's not like, 'Hey, Chris, you're suspended, we don't want to hear from you in a year, good luck with your career and everything else, and if it doesn't work out, oh well, there's a million other fighters waiting to line up.' I care about this guy, as a person, as a human being, before he's a fighter. And I want to make sure Chris Leben is OK. If he needs any type of therapy or rehab or whatever it might be to make sure his personal life is on track, that means more to me than anything else. There's going to be guys that are going to make mistakes."
"Some guys are going to make mistakes bad enough that they're going to burn themselves to the ground. It's all in how a guy handles himself after he makes a mistake. That's what I care about."
Penick's Analysis: The arbitrary nature of this release isn't going to sit well with a lot of fans, especially when he talked in the interview about Evans' statement and Griffin's as well, but it comes down to how fighters handle themselves in situations. It's similar in some respects to White cutting Paul Daley "for life" because of the way he reacted when he was in the wrong after sucker-punching Josh Koscheck. We obviously can't know the behind-the scenes conversation that went on between White and Torres, but clearly White didn't like whatever he heard from Torres, and it's led to this. It's really unfortunate that fans will miss out on some big fights with him in the bantamweight division, but it's the type of thing he brought upon himself.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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